How to have a fun visa run
– Wake up at 5:30 AM
– Enter the minivan at 6:30 AM
– Drive for five hours to the Cambodian border crossing
– Cross the Cambodian border at Ban Pakkad
– Write, sign, copy, stamp, smile
– Cross the border into Thailand
– Drive back home for five hours
Back home you are a stamp richer and a day poorer. Sounds like a lot of fun…? Probably not, but why not make the best of your trip. In this article I give some advice about how you can make your trip as comfortable as possible. In the article I focus mainly on expats/travelers in Thailand who need to to make an organised trip across the border.
Alone or organised
Once, when I was still a visa run rookie, I thought that it would be fun and cheap to do a visa run on my own. So off I went to the Cambodian border crossing at Poi Pet. Boy did I have it wrong. The adventure started with a long and uncomfortable train journey and ended with a nasty scam. Eventually, I returned home a lot of frustrations richer and a lot of baht poorer.
Do you want to experience a comfortable visa run? Then choose to travel with an agency. You might pay a little bit extra but your journey will be fully organised, and you only have to follow the agency staff from one place to another. Very convenient, and maybe you are able to make some new friends among your fellow travelers.
Choose an agency
So which agency should you choose. Do some research and start by checking to which border crossing they bring you. Some destinations can be a real hassle. Poi Pet, for example, is a chaotic and miserable place full of scammers. However, it is a popular spot to cross the border, which means long queues at immigration. I recommend you book a trip to Ban Pakkad with Meesuk Travel. A very quick and convenient visa run.
When doing research it is also wise to check the departure/arrival point and time of the transport vans from the agency. Early departures from a good location are beneficial because the driver is able to leave the city quickly. You will most likely be back before the darkness and the start of Bangkok’s notorious rush hours. Good for your time and for your safety.
Rules and requirements
Make sure to ask the agency about the current visa regulations when you contact them to make a reservation. The Thai visa rules change often. Avoid unwanted surprises. Do not leave your house without at least three passport pictures (make sure they apply to the latest photo requirements) and bring some xerox copies of your passport.
Often you can make copies at embassies or border crossings but avoid the extra hassles of looking for a copy machine and standing in line. Also make sure you book a trip at least a few days before your visa is expired. Then you will have some spare days if something goes wrong. Unnecessary overstay charges are expensive.
Your going to be on the road for a full day so find some ways to entertain yourself, and make sure that you stay entertained for the whole trip. For example, bring a book or music player. I personally like to bring my laptop so that I can work or watch a movie. I also make sure that my phone has a portable Wi-Fi connection so that i will have a hotspot during the trip.
Your phone battery will not last long, when you use it as a portable hotspot, so I advice you to buy and bring a power bank. This very useful gadget can be used to charge your phones battery. Another option is to bring a USB stick and charge your phone with the power of your laptop. I also advice to bring a soft pillow for the best entertainment of all.
Snacks and drinks
A certain amount of food and drinks will be included in the price of your trip. However, do not only depend on the agency for your nutrition intakes. I advice that you also pack some snacks and drinks. Especially if you are, like me, picky about what you want to consume.
Ready to go
Now you are ready for a hassle free trip to the border. Remember to smile to the customs officers, drink enough water and talk to your fellow travelers. Don’t forget to take a look out of the window during the trip. Enjoy the scenery. The beautiful countryside of Thailand deserves an observation.
Did you ever participated in an organized visa run? Which company did you choose and how was your experience?
- Meesuk Travel: This is the website of the visa company that I usually use. They have good connections and they offer a decent visa run service. Expect to make a lot of Filipino friends as those are the people who mainly travel with this company.
- Ultimate Thai VISA Guide: Looking for some original ideas for visa runs? Read this excellent guide from bloggers Allan Wilson and Fanfan Narach. On their blog, Live Less Ordinary, they provide a list of the best countries and cities for visa runs, along with other useful travel information.
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